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- Proposed Route Changes in Falmouth
Proposed Route Changes in Falmouth
Transit Together proposes route extensions and a change in service profile on the Route 7, which currently runs between downtown Portland and east Falmouth. These changes would begin in Fall 2023, with additional changes likely in Winter 2023/2024.
Proposed Route Changes
Extension of Route 7 to Thompson's Point
Transit Together recommends extending Route 7 service from Elm Street to Thompson's Point via Congress Street, St. John Street, and Fore River Parkway, mimicking Route 1's current alignment. This would replace direct service to Mercy Hospital and Thompson's Point that would be removed from Route 1 service.
Route 7 currently operates hourly, seven days a week. Transit Together recommends improving frequency to every 45 minutes, with a long-term goal of further improving frequency to every 30 minutes or better.
Replace Falmouth loops with on-demand transit service
As discussed before the Falmouth Town Council in December 2022, METRO plans to replace the two "loops" in Falmouth, which currently serve Oceanview and Route 88 between Johnson Road and Depot Road, with an on-demand transit (or "microtransit") zone. This microtransit service would allow for residents to book trips anywhere within the zone, including Falmouth Village, where the Route 7 would terminate. The microtransit zone is still to be determined, but it will cover a larger area than the current Route 7 loops, providing transit access to more Falmouth residents. This improvement is a pilot project funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. If successful, it will be made permanent, and used as a model for other microtransit services in the METRO network.
Microtransit implementation will most likely occur some months after the Route 7 extension to Thompson's Point. Specific outreach will be made to Route 7 riders and Falmouth residents ahead of this change. Until then, METRO will continue to run the loop service.
Benefits of Recommended Route Changes
Congress Street High Frequency Corridor
METRO continues to strive for better headways on all its bus routes, which will require a long-term expansion of the system. In the meantime, we can stagger routes running along a common corridor so that passengers who are merely moving along the peninsula can get on any one of several bus routes to reach their destination, with wait times of 10 minutes or less. Extending the Route 7 to Thompson's Point and switching Route 5 to Congress Street enables this feature between Elm Street and St. John Street.
Improved connectivity between Portland and Falmouth
Extending the Route 7 to Thompson's Point adds several major destinations to the Route 7, a historically low-ridership route. The Route 7 passengers would gain access to Congress Square, Longfellow Square, the Maine Medical Center area, Portland Transportation Center, and Thompson's Point on a single-seat trip.
Improved access to transit in Falmouth
Serving Falmouth with microtransit, instead of inefficient fixed-route service, will allow for a larger coverage area in Falmouth, extending to the Cumberland line and further west toward the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. The microtransit zone would likely have wait times of 10-20 minutes, allowing for travel within the zone without the need to adhere to a fixed-route schedule. Microtransit users would be able to transfer to the Route 7 main line in Falmouth Village for free using a DiriGo Pass.
Possible Drawbacks of Recommended Route Changes
No one-trip rides beginning or ending along Falmouth loops
Bus passengers along the loops in Falmouth would no longer have a one-seat ride to Portland, and would instead need to use the microtransit service to connect to the Route 7.